Rovers title hopes now out of their hands
Halifax Irish .. 28
Sharlston Rovers .. 22
Pennine Premier League
Rovers championship campaign has now been taken out of their hands after going down to Halifax Irish, Rovers only hopes now is for Irish to slip up in at least one of their remaining 2 league fixtures versus Keighley Albion or Clayton. In an enthralling encounter the lead switched hands seven times with Graham Charlesworth’s outstanding 90 metre solo try six minutes from time proving to be the match breaking point.
In a tense opening it was Charlesworth who put the hosts 2-0 up with a 15th minute penalty. Rovers replied on quarter time with a James Byrom try in the corner courtesy of good work from Carl Saville and Alex Muff. Three minutes later the Irish replied as man of the match Chris Holroyd linked with Lee Brook to score on the right flank. Charlesworth added a fine conversion to put his side 8-4 up. Back came Rovers with a Matty Bell try as he followed up his own kick through and added the extras for the lead at 10-8. With packmen Kevin Dickens, Craig Miles, Andy Booth and Steve Hall running and offloading well it was Rovers who were threatening to take control. On the stroke of half time the Irish pulled back level as Charlesworth put over a penalty conversion to enter the interval 10 points each.
The second half began with the visitors in fine form, early pressure eventually leading to a Dale Potter try eight minutes in out on the touch side. The Irish once again responded, Holroyd latching on to well worked move that parted the Rovers defence. Charlesworth maintained his impeccable kicking form with another conversion. On 66 minutes Gareth Davies showed his undoubted finishing as the ball crossed the width of the field, Bell crucially missed another conversion but his side led 18-16. The turning point of the game came on 71 minutes as the Irish raced into a 28-18 lead with two tries in three minutes. Michael Reed raced over in the corner as Rovers held off Irish’s powerful center. Charlesworth booted over a magnificent touchline conversion to go 4 points clear.
On the restart Charlesworth scored what could prove most crucial, racing the length of the field from a set play from a scrum. His fifth kick of the afternoon looked like settling the game in the hosts favour. However, the fighting Rovers spirit was epitomised in the final minute as Byrom crashed over for his second try. Bell’s kick agonisingly coming off the crossbar and time ran out for the visitors as the Irish dealt a massive blow to Andy Fisher’s sides’ title aspirations.
Rovers will now for at least the short term pull their efforts to get to the final of the Pennine ARL Presidents cup when they play host to Clayton in the semi final with a 2pm kick off.